In the video primer above, Eve Andrews from Grist explains why bargain clothing is the root of fashion’s social and environmental ills. An $8 shirt may seem like chump change to most of us, but once you figure in the roughly 1,320 gallons of water and 9 pounds of carbon dioxide it takes to produce and transport, the cost to the planet becomes too high to contemplate. “That’s to say nothing of the terrible working conditions that the people who make most of our clothes endure, earning next to nothing in extremely unsafe factories [and] perpetuating a cycle of poverty in some of the most vulnerable parts of the world,” Andrews says. “Yeah, that’s a lot of resources for one shitty shirt.”
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Besides dropping your cash on quality clothes you’ll want to wear over and over, Andrews’s No. 1 way for lowering one’s closet footprint is one we’ve been espousing all along: buying less. “It’s not doing something and it’s not spending money,” Andrews says. “And you’ll look fabulous doing it.”
Just as important, Andrews says, “don’t trash your fash.” Drop them off at the growing number of stores with Goodwill or textile-recycling bin, or “hell, turn them into rags.”
Last, get a little dirty. You don’t have to wash your clothes as much as you think you do. About 80 percent of a garment’s energy consumption comes from washing and drying, Andrews explains. (Levi’s concurs.)
“In the end, cheap fashion is like the Donald Trump of industries,” Andrews says. “It’s everywhere you look and it’s not hard to realize it’s obnoxious, really bad for the environment, and comes in a terrible shade of orange.”
It’s time to make fashion great again.